Border Permit in the North Caucasus mountains
The border permit in the North Caucasus region is one of the most confusing topics especially for international guests. You don’t worry about it when join an organized tour but as an independent traveller you take care of a lot of things by yourself. Hence, there’s a whole bunch of questions about the system and procedures. You’re at the right place! In this article you will find the answers in regards of border permits or so-called mountain passes in the North Caucasus region.
! The information below is relevant for the time of writing (October 2020). For updates, please, feel free to contact us via this form.
What is a border permit?
It’s a piece of paper that confirms that the Russian Federal Security Service (ФСБ/FSB) gives you a permission to enter the area close to Russian international border. The permit is issued by a local department of every republic of the North Caucasus. It works only for one specific republic or, in some cases, only for a specific hiking trail. For instance, border permits issued in Dagestan won’t work in the Kabardino-Balkaria border zone.
- You can request it for a period of up to 12 months
- It must be valid on all the days of your stay in the area
- Valid only when presented to an authorized person alongside with your identity document/passport
NOTE: some areas also belong to national parks or reserves that may require getting another type of permit. Those are two DIFFERENT papers and one does NOT replace the other.
When is the border permit needed?
When you visit any place in the North Caucasus that is situated close (5-25 km) to the Russian border with Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Azerbaijan. There is a list of some popular places where you will need it: towers in Dzheirakh region (Ingushetia); waterfall Abai-Suu, Bezengi, Adyl-Su and Adyr-Su gorges (Kabardino-Balkaria); Dombay and Arkhyz areas except Baduksky lakes and Chertova Melnitsa waterfall (Karachay-Cherkessia); Midagrabinsky waterfalls (North Ossetia-Alania).
For climbing Mount Elbrus (either from the south or the north) NO border permit is required. However, there’s a national park permit/ recreational fee that you pay upon arrival to the base-camp.
For Mount Kazbek you DO need a border permit only in case you want to climb it starting from OR finishing at the Russian side (North Ossetia Republic).
Where do you show the permit?
A special control zone in the mountain areas is usually marked with a blue warning sign and/or a checkpoint with people in military uniform there. In some areas there are no checkpoints, instead, the patrol may meet and check you on the way.
They will ask for your passport, visa, migration card and border permit. Then they will make some notes, tell you about the rules and let you go further if everything is OK with your documents. In rare cases they also ask questions (if you/none in your group speaks Russian be ready to use a translator).
How can you get the border permit for the North Caucasus border areas?
1) Fill out an application form “приложение №2”. Sign it and scan.
2) Attach a scanned copy of your passport.
3) Send both files by email to one of the Republic’s FSB departments listed below:
Dagestan: +7(8734) 55-21-15, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chechnya: +7(8712) 62-85-71, email@example.com
Kabardino-Balkaria: +7(8662) 48-18-57, firstname.lastname@example.org
Karachay-Cherkessia: +7(8782) 26-41-33, email@example.com
North Ossetia-Alania: +7(8672) 40-93-07, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ingushetia: +7(8734) 55-21-15, email@example.com
Within 1-3 working days after the submission you will receive a confirmation whether your application is accepted (then you get the permit in 4-5 weeks) OR it contains mistakes and is rejected. In case of the latter, you correct the mistakes and re-submit it. The number of attempts isn’t limited and the mistakes are usually specified in the email.
The good news is that you can apply for the permit at any time, even before you get a visa. The bad news is that the form must be filled out in Russian and your name written in cyrillic and staff will speak only Russian to you as well.
You’ll receive a notification to your email when the permit is ready and also the info about the place where you (personally) should pick it up. Depending on the republic it may be possible that another person gets it for you (guide or friend) but this should be clarified and negotiated individually. Mind, that you can only pick up the permit on working days (Monday to Friday) and Friday is a short working day.
How much does it cost?
All services of getting the permits are FREE of charge for our tours participants.
If you are not, we will be glad to help you as well.
Please, contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or using this form.
Do not try to avoid checkpoint control, skip it by using other paths or hide from authorities! It will lead to your immediate arrest and deportation from Russia.